Zombies! . . . For Credit: College Offers Course on the Undead

For some time, I have been a voice in the wilderness trying to warn the nation of the growing problem of zombies in confrontations with police and traffic accidents. Now, at least one academic is with me. Arnold Blumberg at the University of Baltimore is offering a course on Zombies. Designated English 333, Zombie studies could produce a small cadre of Zombie-ready graduates to deal with the undead.

Blumberg is the author of “Zombiemania,” a book on zombies in culture and the curator of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum. Students will watch 16 movies on zombies and read zombie comics. Sweet. They can then skip a final and instead draw storyboards for zombie flicks.

My God, this idea is the type of thing that would only be thought of by a brain-dead, aimlessly walking . . . Zombie!

Source: Yahoo

Jonathan Turley

72 thoughts on “Zombies! . . . For Credit: College Offers Course on the Undead

  1. Gyges,

    I’m not sure I get your point about zombies and vampires and subcultures–and about why taking this zombie course would be so beneficial to college students.

    You said–in regard to vampires: “The base characters are always pretty established as pop culture, they’re just waiting to be snatched up by the latest generation of writers\directors.”

    I believe the zombie course is being taught in conjunction with the University of Baltimore’s new minor in pop culture–so why wouldn’t vampires also serve as an appropriate subject for such a course?


    In regard to the spacing of my examples: I noted books, TV shows, and a movie that are popular today/have been popular in recent years because they are the ones that came to mind.

  2. Elaine,

    With Zombies you have something that went from a relatively obscure sub-genre of “horror” to something that invaded pop-culture.

    With Vampires you have something that’s been part of pop culture, and waxes and wanes in popularity pretty regularly.

    Buffy was released in ’97 right about the same time as Ann Rice’s popularity. Ten years later we have the next incarnation, Twilight and True Blood. Ten years before we had “The Lost Boys,” and it’s rip offs. The mean time, you’ve got Dracula. He had is movies being made in pretty much 2 year intervals for 40 some odd years. Plus Blackula, Chocula, etc. Zombies had nowhere near that much pop culture presence, until recently.

    The two types of undead represent two different pop phenomena. Something about Zombies speaks to the late 00’s\early10’s. Something about Vampires speaks to humanity.

  3. Gyges,

    Weren’t zombie movies made in the fifties, sixties, and seventies–and even earlier?

    From the course description for Zombies in Literature–English 2025–at Louisiana State University

    The zombie is a relatively new addition to the pantheon of monsters, making its first appearance as a fictional monster in Victor Halpern’s 1932 film White Zombie, itself loosely inspired by William Seabrook’s popular Haitian travelogue The Magic Island, published in 1929. Seabrook spent a great deal of time in Haiti and collected stories of Voodoo and the creation of zombies, and actually claimed to have witnessed the resurrection of a dead man via these means. Soon after the publication of Seabrook’s book, the figure of the zombie captured western consciousness, appearing in popular films and pulp fiction. Perhaps one reason for the zombie’s popularity is its malleability as a symbol for our deepest fears. The creature rapidly went from representing white xenophobic fears of the dangerous propinquities of former slaves to a metaphor for fears about communism, capitalism and the boundaries of medical science.

    This course will explore the creation the zombie as literary character and its rapid transformation into numerous signifiers. In particular we will examine much of George A. Romero’s influential Night of the Living Dead series and how it changed how we view the creature: all subsequent zombie texts pay homage to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead series, if only to refute the rules of living death it established.

    Since the zombie is primarily a cinematic character, we will view a film during each class meeting. We will also examine zombie pulp stories from the thirties and forties, as well some more contemporary novels, comics and graphic novels. Comics are particularly important to the creation of the zombie character as well, as this creature, along with vampires and werewolves, was a staple of the much maligned horror comics that flourished throughout the 1930’s to 1950s before congressional hearings fueled by Frederic Werthem’s 1953 book Seduction of the Innocent lead to the creation of the Comics Code Authority, an industry group that voluntarily squelched the publication of horror comics for the next 20 years. We will also discuss this figure’s relationship to other creatures in the generally recognized pantheon of monsters such as vampires and mummies.

  4. Elaine,

    In re Poe. I would argue “The Tell Tale Heart” would be good for the curriculum because it deals with the dead living on albeit in the mind of a twisted killer as contrast to DuMaurier’s “The Monkey’s Paw” which is plainly about an actually revived corpse. Teaching analytics requires contrast.

  5. And for the record I think vampires would be a marginally better topic than zombies simply for the reasons Gyges pointed out: they are a cyclical trend demonstrable over time thus providing a larger sample space to show how memes propagate in literature and the arts than the relatively recent zombies.

  6. Buddha,

    I have no argument with “The Tell Tale Heart” being included in a school curriculum. I think I read it when I was in high school. It was my kind of reading–along with more contemporary literature like “Animal Farm,” “1984,” “Brave New World,” and “The Good Earth.”

  7. Man my editing is sub-par today.


    It’s not that I think Vampires would be bad a class I just think that a vampire class wouldn’t be nearly as effective for showing (and I’m going to quote myself) “how stories and archetypes are spread through modern culture.” In retrospect, “contemporary culture” would have been clearer. Let’s face it, the widespread use of the internet has drastically changed how culture works, to the point where in order to show the workings of our current culture, you need to pick examples P.I. (post-internet).

  8. To whom it may concern:

    If you haven’t already read it or added it to your stack of books to read, may I recommend:

    Mayflower, A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick

    It’s a great book.

    Sorry to interrupt …

  9. Blouise,

    I have it in my stack of “to be read” books.

    Here’s a book I think you might like: “Idiot America: How Stupdity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.” It was written by Charles Pierce, a staff writer for the “Boston Globe Magazine.”

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